Partnerships, VCs and content: best practices from experts at Mix N’ Mentor Amman

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Last week, Wamda organized its 14th Mix N’ Mentor and its fourth in Amman, Jordan. The event was supported by our strategic partners Zain Jordan, Microsoft and King Abdullah II Foundation, and Kharabeesh whose experts’ presence contributed to the overall success of the event.

As always, Mix N’ Mentor adapted its format to better serve attending entrepreneurs.

            

This time we designed the first 2 sessions for two stages: Early stage entrepreneurs took part in group discussions around partnerships and growth. Whereas growth stage entrepreneurs benefited from one-to-one sessions with experts such as Fadi Ghandour, Will Hutson, Sohrab Jahanbani, Ahmad Al-Hanandeh and others.

During the round table discussions both early and growth stage entrepreneurs met mentors for three topics: behind the closed doors of a VC, mobile and content monetization, and e-commerce.

The last activity of the day gathered everyone around a fireside chat. Experts and mentors including  Herve Cuviliez, Lana Alamat and others shared advice and tips based on challenges they heard throughout the day.

The discussions focused mostly on partnerships, monetizing content and access to VCs. Here are some of the top points discussed during the day:

Content

  1. Distribution, distribution, distribution: It’s not just about great content, it’s about creating massive distribution channels and proper sales structures. So make sure you focus on what matters to build a great business.

Herve Cuviliez, of giant content publisher Diwanee, said that the content team is only 25% of Diwanee, whereas the other 75% are given to distribution and sales. Anything below million of viewers is nothing. “Good content ideas should be validated with the sales team, just to make sure they are monetisable. Because without distribution and sales, content won’t go anywhere,” said Cuvillez during the fireside chat.

  1. Going Niche: Find a niche that isn’t being tapped. Before starting Diwanee, Herve realized that there was a high volume in searches around Women beauty products, fashion and health, but no content that catered to that. This is when he decided to create Diwanee.

     

Partnerships

  1. Look for value: You don’t always need to partner with big names. So don't just follow a logo, search for the value a company can offer and measure it.

  2. Build an advisory board: Tap into their resources and contacts to find the suitable partnerships.

  3. Focus on sales: Don't spend too much time on operations and design, a sales team is very important to sustain and grow your company.

Greeting cards startup,Yislamoo, tried to sell online. But the cost of express shipping was too expensive, so they added free postal shipping for orders over 50$, with the option of handwriting the message and shipping it directly to the recipient. One advice Rasha Hamdan (founder) received was to approach flower shops, the most aggressively growing e-retailers in the Middle East, and the most suitable for cards.

Behind VC doors

  1. Embrace co-investment: VCs in the region all know each other and often discuss deals. Which means more money for you if you get one VC interested.

  2. Be selective: Figure out what the added value is before selecting a VC. Select investors according to what they are looking for, and what you are looking for. The best due diligence you can do is talking to the portfolio companies.

  3. Be proactive: Share your figures and projections. Be picky about who invests in them. Eventually the region will get to a place where VCs are reaching out to startups to invest.

  4. Not every business needs to raise VC money: Value, strategy and access to market are more important in the region than the value of a funding.

What would a potential investor tell you?

  1. Do your work before you talk to me. Make sure you have a clear idea, the right skillsets on your team, and a detailed timeline for the execution.

  2. If I reject your startup the first time, find the problem, fix it, then come back.

  3. Manage the relationship as if we were casual friends. Ping me for updates every once and a while when you have some news to share.

Want actionable tips on managing remote teams, building an engaged customer base and keeping clean books? Watch the fireside chat from Mix N' Mentor Amman.

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